By Kailey Fisicaro

The Bulletin

Enrollment at OSU-Cascades rose about 7 percent in fall 2017, and its number of first-year students jumped up slightly, too.

The university reported that enrollment at its Bend campus is 1,204 students, including 81 who are first-year students. By comparison, Oregon State University’s main campus in Corvallis grew by 0.4 percent.

Before the campus opened on SW Chandler Avenue in fall 2016, the university held classes at Central Oregon Community College. Last school year, the university’s first Bend campus, Oregon State University-Cascades, opened with 1,122 students, of whom 60 were first-year students — a lower than expected number.

This year is similar to the university’s first, with the great majority of the school’s students — 92 percent — coming from Oregon. Students from Central Oregon make up 67 percent of the university’s enrollees. The 8 percent not from Oregon come from 28 other states and seven countries.

Last fall, OSU-Cascades’ director of enrollment services said there were two likely causes for the lower-than-expected number of first-year students. First, the residence hall would not be open until the second semester, in January. And second, potential OSU-Cascades students may have taken advantage of Oregon Promise, a state grant launched in 2016 that helps pay tuition at the state’s community colleges.

This fall, an increase in first-year students may have been thanks to the residence hall being open.

School officials say OSU-Cascades is gaining traction.

The university has had a big percentage growth compared with other public universities, according to Communications Director Christine Coffin.

“We’re a very new campus and still building awareness around the state,” Coffin said, adding its new physical presence has made OSU-Cascades more tangible. “Our story is much more real than it has been in the past.”

Coffin said the Oregon Promise grant affected the number of first-year students OSU-Cascades saw this year, just like it has affected all public universities in Oregon.

“It’s wonderful for students, but it has affected the public universities growth for last year and this year,” Coffin said, adding Oregon State University in Corvallis is mostly trying to maintain its student population instead of grow because of its capacity.

But Coffin wouldn’t be surprised if some students who took advantage of Oregon Promise at Central Oregon Community College end up coming to OSU-Cascades.

“We’ll also hopefully see those students transition from the community college to a university,” she said. “It’s a bubble that’s coming through.”

The students who received Oregon Promise at the community college in Bend are highly exposed to OSU-Cascades and its degree offerings, Coffin pointed out, because the two schools have a tight relationship.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,